I'm officially smack in the middle of my thirties now. Maturity, here I come!
Yesterday was the big day. Remember we talked about a cake? So this cake I finally picked is a Martha Stewart Living recipe with four easy steps that can be effortlessly combined into a three-layer Chocolate Cake with Milk-Chocolate Crunch and Caramel Sauce. IF you are Martha Stewart.
I'm kidding. It would not have been a difficult cake to make if I had done a few things differently (and by "differently", I mean "correctly). However, that's not how it went down, and so at this point we've been making this cake for approximately - let me glance at my watch here - fifteen hours. It's no longer my birthday. And Raphael gave up long ago and went off to school to build things besides cakes.
While we're waiting for the second batch of caramel (don't ask about the first - its fate saddens me. Let's just say it this way: Damn you, Martha! Thanks, Some Guy on the Internet!) to cool and the frosting we made yesterday to be ready for refluffing (because I inadvertently defluffed it by leaving it too long in the fridge), I'll give you a rundown of my birthday festivities.
On Friday, Lea (my co-lab specialist at work) brought me a cake which the Excavation students (and me! I got some too!) wolfed down at the picnic tables at lunchtime while resting from the wearying task of bailing almost a foot of water from the concrete-floored fake pithouses we wanted to map but didn't want to drown in. (We also did some other educational activities - none of which taught anyone more about doing actual archaeology than the bailing. )
After class, we hit our usual spot for beers and one of the advanced Excavation students presented me with a bottle of Jager and a box of Dixie cups with fish on them. Classy! So we all shared birthday Jager shots in fish-themed Dixie cups and (bless their little hearts, those students) I went home with only an inch or so left in the bottle. Also, one of them bought me a pretty pink shot called a P*** P****. I can't type its name in front of my parents. Someone suggested we refer to it as a Rose Kitty. Or perhaps a Pink Panther. We could do both of those things. And probably should.
Yesterday, we got up and Raphael made Guatemalan breakfast and gave me flowers. And we had mimosas and opened wonderful presents from my wonderful family. I'm a better-dressed person because of them.
Guatemalan Breakfast: black beans with onions and garlic,
eggs, fried bananas (these are supposed to be plantains
but Safeway threw out the plantains because they were
black, which means "perfect for frying", and Americans don't
like black fruit, so whatevs - the bananas were delish),
fresh bread, cilantro and tomatoes, and queso fresco.
Later, we worked on the cake for awhile and, in the evening, we went downtown where something called Second Saturday was going on. I'd never been before, but it apparently involves sidewalk food and craft vendors, bands and performers on the streetcorners, stores and galleries staying open late, cars with things stuck to them (such as hundreds of cameras and things that appeared from a distance to be snowmen), and many more people on stilts than you might expect. Tucson has a thing for people on stilts. You can't have an event in Tucson without people on stilts showing up. I don't understand it, but I find it endearing.
We had a drink at Hotel Congress, where they were setting up a dancefloor on the patio, and then Raphael took me to dinner at Poca Cosa which does delicious, fancy Mexican food and giant piles of salad. You keep finding surprises under the salad as you're eating. ("OMG! There's more carne under here! And a big piece of pineapple! And a guy sleeping!")
I had a margarita at Poca Cosa that was the easily the best one I've had in Tucson. I can't tell you what my food was, because I had the plato, where the chef picks out three dishes for you and hides them under your giant salad but because there are so many of them and their names are all in Spanish, you can never remember what it is that you're actually eating. Raphael got the pollo pipian which was actually pollo mole only with peanuts involved so they had to call it pipian. Our waiter explained it all to us, but I Googled it just now to make sure, since "pipian" I'm pretty certain means "pumpkin seed". I remain confused, but it doesn't really matter. The sauce had chocolate in it, so it was good.
(By the way, Midwesterners: it's mo-lay. Not mole, like the animal that digs up your lawn. That would be terrible. Although that would explain why they call it pipian.)
I've got to go put the cake together. It's been - checking the watch - 16 and a half hours. I think it's time.